The Bows


The Fouciau bows are so called ”primitive self bows” made from one single piece of wood following an ancient historical design and method. Upon making such a bow you need to take into consideration the characteristics of the piece of wood that you are working on. Every part of the design is created around the location of knots, alignment of wood fibre, density and shape. This is why every bow has its own unique appearance and still preforms accurately.

The wood for the bows is selected and harvested by myself in the Normandy forest, manually split into staves and seasoned for 3-6 years before they are shaped into finished bows. All work takes place at the worksop in Le Fouciau, close to the village of Lisores in Normandy, France. The vast majority of the bows are made from European white Ash but Elm, Hazel, Maple, Apple and Yew wood is sometimes used. The handles are made from local ox leather and, depending on the design, some bows have horn nocks, horn or antler tip overlays or self nocks.  The bow design is inspired by Scandinavian remains found in burial places and archeological excavations combined with my 20 years of experimenting with draw weights, wood types and measured arrow speeds.

Split logs

 All bows are delivered with a custom made ”Flemish twist” dacron bow string. When ordering a bow you can add as many matched hand made arrows as you wish to an additional price per arrow.

These are bows made for recreational target practice, 3D hunt competitions and reenactment. They are not meant to be hunting weapons since such bows require heavier draw wights. The draw weights of the Fouciau bows are all different but usually span between 25-50 pounds at 28 inch draw length. If you have specific requirements regarding arrow length please contact me through the contact form.

The majority of the bows are Scandinavian type flat bows and Holmegaard type bows. Depending on the aspect of the piece of material a few are also Nydam-type stave bows. I am not following any sort of blue print but instead mix the design into what I consider to be right for each piece of wood. These type of bows are made to be used and used a lot. But they do not last forever. Our ancestors constantly made new bows for hunting and war as the old ones became weaker. It is impossible to know what a certain bow stave is capable of before it is thoroughly put to the test.

Of all the bows I have made the vast majority are good performing bows well after 10-15 years being shot on a regular basis. That being said, some weaken faster due to various circumstances such as storage, weather conditions, humidity, being strung for long amounts of time, and general maltreatment. Most of the bows that I kept for testing purposes along the years have taken slight ”set” (string follow) but still preform very well. Unfortunately there are also occasions when a bow has split. In such a very rare case I am open for discussions about replacements and corrections. If you want to know more about details you are welcome to contact me through the contact form.

If you have specific needs for a certain type of bow please let me know. I will gladly work with you to meet your requirements. However the cue may vary and I cannot guarantee a time span until I am contacted about a project.

Why a Fouciau bow?

So why would one want a Fouciau bow and why do I make them like this? Are they they best bows? No. Are they the fastest bows? No. Are they the longest lasting bows? No. Are they the prettiest bows? No. (or actually a matter of opinion). So whats the deal?

Through my years of bow making I have tried my hands on many styles of bows, many techniques, many types of wood and other materials. What it boils down to for me personally is to make something out of what is available right were I live and on the trail that I walk with my dogs every day. This is how it was in Niolthic times, through out the viking era and the middle ages. The bow has been the number one projectile weapon all over the planet for approximately 40 000 years and the beauty of it is that every human throughout history as made archery equipment from what they found infront of them. My passion is to walk the forest and see were there are bows. Cut them down, cure them study the pieces and turn it into the best weapon they can be. And were I walk happens to be called Le Fouciau.

Regarding performance these bows can never measure up to a 3 species wood lamination or a fiberglass recurve bow but they get real close and thats my fascination. The little lack they have in performance they well make up for in character and charm. I have also done deep studies in the various finds of bows in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. For some years I was working on recreations of archeological finds in order to see what they could do back then and how far they had developed their knowledge. It is a privilege to carry on where they left off and thats what I do in my own way. It’s to travel in time. To walk the forest and shoot with something that grew right beside you, that you have been taught how to craft and use. To shoot an arrow from a primitive bow is truly magical to me.

Fredrik Hagblom, Bowyer